Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pork Ramen

Depending on where you live there may be ramen restaurants popping up all over town.  In Omaha, we have just two but that doesn't stop the city from being crazy about ramen.  Last summer there was a ramen festival, I can't remember the exact numbers but over 10,000 people attended.  It's funny, ramen reminds most of us of the ramen of our college days.  Those noodles are the base for ramen dishes today.

When I looked on Wiki for a definition of ramen, here's what I found
Ramen (/ˈrɑːmən/) (ラーメン rāmen?, IPA: [ɽäꜜːmeɴ]) is a Japanese noodle soup dish. It consists of Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a meat- or (occasionally) fish-based broth, often flavored with soy sauce or miso, and uses toppings such as sliced pork (チャーシュー chāshū?), dried seaweed (海苔 nori?), menma (メンマ menma?), and green onions ( negi?). Nearly every region in Japan has its own variation of ramen, from the tonkotsu (pork bone broth) ramen of Kyushu to the miso ramen of Hokkaido

The soft boiled eggs are missing from this recipe.  Tim doesn't care for them, I attempted to soft boil one for my ramen.  The result ... fail, the egg wouldn't peel and hadn't reached the soft boil stage.  Despite this, the dish was delicious and quite filling.  My ramen didn't follow the above definition exactly but we both really enjoyed it for a weeknight dinner.

Spicy Pulled Pork Ramen


10 to 12 ounces pulled pork shoulder (I used leftovers)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces shitake mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock (or veg stock, or even beef stock!)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 blocks dried ramen noodles, seasoning packets removed
4 scallions, sliced
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
2 (or 4) eggs, soft boiled or poached
2 tablespoons chili garlic paste
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil


Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the mushrooms and garlic and toss. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and juicy, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
While the mushrooms are cooking, bring the stock to a simmer. Stir in the soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Cook your eggs too! I like to soft boil mine - but poaching is good too.
Place the ramen blocks in two large bowls. Add the pork, scallions and a few cucumber slices to each bowl. Pour the stock over both blocks evenly and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes before stirring. Add mushrooms to each bowl and stir in a few more cucumber slices. At this point you could separate into two more bowls if you want 4 servings. Stir in the chili garlic paste (I do about a tablespoon per bowl for SPICY!) and add your egg and nori sheets. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ruth's Chris Potatoes Au Gratin

These potatoes remind me of the scalloped potatoes of my childhood. Layered among the cream and topped with cheese, they melt in your mouth and you can't resist a second helping. A perfect side dish for a holiday dinner or a weeknight meatloaf dinner.

Ruth's Chris Potatoes Au Gratin
Recipe Courtesy of Epicurious
    • 3 to 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 large clove garlic, pressed
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
    • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
    • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley

    1.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 2. Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch slices, then quarter each of those slices. 3. Beat together the cream, milk, flour, garlic, salt and pepper by hand just until well combined. 4. Coat the inside of a large baking dish with the softened butter. 5. Arrange one-fourth of the potatoes on the bottom of the dish. Pour some of the cream mixture over the potatoes. Repeat this layering step three more times. 6. Cover the potatoes and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 40 minutes or until the potatoes are starting to brown on top. 7. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the potatoes and continue to bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned and the potatoes are tender. 8. Sprinkle the parsley on top and serve.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Salty Honey Pie

Tim and love to cruise!  What's not to love, from the beautiful seas, amazing sunsets,  fabulous meals and fun entertainment.???!!!   Last winter, we cruised Celebrity Cruise lines for the first time.  If you were to ask Tim his favorite things about this last cruise, one of the top two or three would be the Salted Honey Pies, available in the coffee bar.   I love an afternoon latte while on a cruise, it helps me to stay awake for the evening show.  If you like you can enjoy a pastry along with your coffee.  On our first day, Tim discovered the honey pies, so he was happy to go along every afternoon when  I went to get my coffee.

Since last winter, I've been telling him I would try to duplicate the treat.  I did some searching, really what did we do before google?  and found the Two and Twenty Blackbirds recipe for Salted Honey Pie.  I'm not sure this pie was quite as good as the ones on Celebrity because everything tastes better when you're on vacation but it was pretty darn close. I wish it hadn't gotten so brown on the top but otherwise,  I thought it was delicious.  This is a great custard pie if you're looking for an alternative to pumpkin for a holiday dinner.

Salty Honey Pie
Recipe Courtesy of Joy the Baker
  • Your favorite pie crust recipe
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup honey (the best quality you can find)
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp flake sea salt for finishing (like Maldon)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, corn meal and salt. Add the honey and the eggs one and a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the cream, vinegar, and vanilla until mixture is silky smooth.
  3. Pour filling to shell, and bake pie for 45-60 minutes, or until the surface of the pie is puffed and golden, with the middle still slightly wiggly.
  4. Cool for at least an hour, or overnight. Serve with whipped cream or enjoy without, as we did!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sausage and Waffle Breakfast Bake

For Christmas morning breakfast I was looking for a something I could make the night before and bake while opening gifts.  I've made this breakfast bake before but if I recall we had guests and I didn't take the time for pictures.  This is hearty and delicious breakfast casserole has just a hint of sweet from the maple syrup and sauce.  Preparing this the night before is not only convenient but allows the sauce soak to into the waffles and create a wonderful bread pudding like texture.

Maple Sausage and Waffle Casserole
serves 6

8 frozen Eggo homestyle waffles, cubed
16 ounces maple breakfast sausage, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 large eggs
1-1/4 cups whole or low-fat milk
1/4 cup maple syrup

Cook the sausage in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain fat.

Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Add half of the cubed waffles in a single layer. Top with half of the sausage and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Layer the remaining waffles and sausage and 1/2 cup more cheese. Whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole.

Wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap and place refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day.

Bake at 325 degrees 45 to 50 minutes.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Eve Dessert Table

For the NYE dessert table, I made brownie bites, cake balls, dressed up fortune cookies and boozy pudding shots.

 A few weeks ago, I made these for Tim's office.  Using that recipe as inspiration, I  used a white cake mix, along with a little vanilla extract for the base, dipping them in almond bark and sprinkling them with glitter.

The brownie bites, no secrets here.  They were a boxed mix with a few mini chocolate chips tossed in.

Who doesn't want to break open a fortune cookie to see what their fortune is?  And if you don't like the one you chose, try another one!  I bought these at World Market and dressed them up with white chocolate and edible glitter.

And to top the evening off, I made some boozy pudding shots.  Using store bought chocolate cups, I made french vanilla pudding using milk and RumChata, topped off with a squirt of whipping cream.  Delicious!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's Eve!!

We're had two couples for a NYE dinner and celebration.  I wanted something to dress up the appetizer and dessert table in the bar.  Where did I turn for inspiration?  Pinterest, of course.

The 2016 bottles were easy to put together, just be sure to allow plenty of time for the bottles to dry between steps.

Here's what you need:

Beer or Wine Bottles
Spray Paint of your choice
Scrapbook Paper of your choice
Floral Wire
Curly Ribbon
  1. Remove the labels from your bottles.  I used Oxi Clean laundry powder.  Soak for a couple of hours and the labels come off easily.  A word of caution, the oxi can cause staining in ceramic sinks.  I do this process in a dish tub or large bowl.
  2.  If desired, prime the bottles with white paint or primer.  Less glitter is required if you prime the bottles.
  3. Dry overnight, spray with your desired color of glitter.
  4. Trace numbers on the scrapbook paper.  Cut out numbers.
  5. Attach numbers to floral wire with tape.
  6. I used pieces of popcorn packing materials to hold the wire in place.
  7. Cut desired length of curly ribbon to place in bottles.
I have enough scrapbook paper leftover, I can change the number for the next few years.  A fun and easy reusable New Year's Eve decoration.